Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Adventures Of Stoob- Testing Times

Title: The Adventures Of Stoob- Testing Times
Author: Samit Basu
Main Characters: Stoob, his friends, and a villainous crow

“The Adventures Of Stoob- Testing Times” is a very nice book. It is funny, and makes the reader laugh throughout. Starting from the name Stoob, everything is downright funny. Well, the name is actually a shortened form of Subroto Bandhopadhyay! And then why is it Stoob? Here is an excerpt from the book where the protagonist(Stoob) gives the reason for calling himself Stoob:

Subroto Bandhopadhyay. It’s a nice name. If it’s 1914. If you’re dressed in a white dhoti-kurta and part of Indian Freedom Struggle. If you’re fifty years old and have three children in college and you’re running an arty theatre group. But I’m none of those things. How am I going to feature in strike partnerships with an about-to-retire Messi if my name doesn’t fit on the Barcelona team shirt? How am I going to have my own rock band, or invent something that lets us live in space, or direct my own action movies if my name is Subroto Bandhopadhyay?

And here is my favourite drawing from the book: 
Now- coming over to the story:
Stoob is relieved that the exams are over. He is overjoyed. But the announcement comes- all the earlier test marks do not count. Stoob needs to pass a big final examination to complete middle-school. Stoob borrows notes from his friend Ishani, and also takes help from Rehan, to study for the upcoming exams. But he is also tempted to partner with Prithvi, who is planning to cheat by copying. Ishani and Rehan save him from committing such a mistake. They also try to make Prithvi let go of such an idea. But they fail to do so. So the threesome plan, and make Prithvi’s numerous attempts to copy go in vain. They make him angry, and finally they all pass out decently. Ishani ends up being class first, and Rehan second. Stoob does well, and Prithvi realizes his mistake. They all pass out of middle-school happily.

You are wondering where the villainous crow comes, right? Read the book to find out.
I enjoyed reading the book very much.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Sri Pingali Venkayya- The Designer Of The Tirangaa

I recently participated in the CBSE Writing Series. We had to research about Sri Pingali Venkayya and write an essay for the given topic. My essay didn't win a prize, but I wanted to share it.

The topic I wrote on was: 
Sri Pinagi Venkayya's contribution to the nation, and the relevance it has today.

Every free nation of the world has its own flag. It is a symbol of a free country. At all national meetings, festivals, and occasions, it is the national flag that flies high. It is by the national tricolour, the tirangaa, that India has it identity. Waving the national flag creates a sense of unity and patriotism in the country. Be it a cricket match, or a national event, the tricolour flag of India flies proudly. It is hoisted in the Red Fort every year by our President and Prime Minister during Independence Day, 15th August, and Republic Day, 26th January. And, this flag is a slightly altered form of Sri Pingali Venkayya’s design of the Indian National Flag.

Sri Pingali Venkayya was the man born in the village of Bhatlapenumarru, Krishna district, near Masulipatnam, Andhra Pradesh. After finishing his schooling at Machilipatnam, he went to Colombo for further studies. He first met Mahatma Gandhi while he served for the British in the Anglo-Boer war, fighting for the British, in South Africa. He was kindled and inspired by Gandhi, and was also greatly influenced by his ideas. He became a Gandhian.

During the duration of five years that Sri Pingali Venkayya stayed in North India, he actively participated in politics. After the 1906 Congress session with Dadabhai Naoroji, Pingali Venkayya manifested himself as an activist.

During the National Conference of the Indian National Congress, Sri Venkayya came up with the proposal of having a unique flag for the Indian National Congress. Mahatma Gandhi liked and approved of Pingali Venkayya’s idea. He asked Venkayya to design a flag himself. Sri Pingali Venkayya proposed the tricolour(tiranga)- saffron, white and green- with a chakra or spinning wheel in the centre. This design was the basis for the National Flag of India.

Our National Flag, in the form that it is now flown, was adopted during the meeting of Constituent Assembly held on the 22 July 1947, a few days before India's Independence from the British on 15 August, 1947. It served as the national flag of the Dominion of India between 15 August, 1947 and 26 January, 1950 and became the flag of Republic of India after that. The term "tricolour" or “tiranga” refers to the Indian national flag.

What do the three colours, that Sri Pingali Venkayya created for the Indian flag, represent?
The saffron colour represents courage, white colour represents truth and peace and green colour represents faith and Prosperity. The saffron represents the Hindus, the white represents the Christians and the green represents the Muslims, creating a unity among the three major religions of the Indian population. The Indian National flag is a perfect model representing an “Independent”, “Republic” and “Secular” India. It is the pictorial representation of the Nation.

Sri Pingali Venkayya definitely has to attributed for creating the idea and design, on the basis of which our present National Flag of India has been created. It has been 67 years since the adoption of our Indian flag, and still the flag is hoisted up creating a strong bond among the Indians. The tiranga solely unites the diversity of India.

Knowing about Pingali Venkayya’s contribution to the nation, and the important relevance it has in our nation today, will serve the purpose of institutional memories of the nation and the Freedom Struggle, to keep the energetic youth of India motivated and inspired. This in turn will help the youth to participate actively in Indian politics, and also be responsible citizens of India. 
Vande Mataram! Jai Hind!


Title: Contagion

Author: Robin Cook

Main Characters: Jack Stapleton, Laurie Montgomery, Terese Hagen, Calvin Washington(deputy chief), Colleen Anderson, Chet, Dr. Zimmerman, Dr. Martin Cheveau, Warren, Slam,Spit, Lou Soldano, Bingham, Richard Overstreet and Beth Holderness

JACK STAPLETON is a very interesting character, and I naturally like him the most. From John, he becomes Jack. From an overweight conservative with old tastes, he becomes a ‘pickup basketball nut’ as he describes himself. He lives in the 106th street, in Harlem, along with NY gangsters. A conversation, about where he lives, goes this way:

“Come on,” Chet said. “Where do you live?” 
“I live on the Upper West Side,” Jack said. “It’s no secret.”
“In the seventies?” Chet asked.
“A bit higher,” Jack said.
“You are not going to tell me it’s higher than nineties, are you?” Chet asked.
“A tad,” Jack said. “I live on a Hundred and Sixth street.”
“Good grief!” Chet exclaimed. “You are living in Harlem.”
“What’s in a name?” Jack shrugged.
“Why in the world live in Harlem?” Chet asked. “Of all the neat places to live in and around the city, why live there? It can’t be a nice neighbourhood. Besides, it must be dangerous!”

Not only does Jack live in such a place, he is also friends with the gangsters by playing Basketball along with them. Apart from this, Jack is a professional doctor, and very committed to his work. He  is a truly hard worker, and is very smart. Finally, Jack Stapleton ends up being a perfect “Detective Doc”.

Jack Stapleton gets seriously bored with the mundane cases in the pit, autopsy room, until his colleague cum friend, Laurie Montgomery, allots him the case of a man, named Nodelman, whose diagnosis is an unknown infectious disease. The case appeals to Jack Stapleton, and he becomes very interested it it. Finally, in front of Calvin Washington, the deputy chief, Dr. Stapleton predicts the disease that killed Nodelman as plague. It remains a statement to joke and laugh at, until Agnes tests a lung sample and really finds it to be plague. They alert the City Board of Health. Since Nodelman had been a patient in Manhattan General, Jack straight goes to the Manhattan General hospital to inform them. Due to his sarcasm, he gets thrown out of the hospital by the heads. He leaves it to hell.

But, this just doesn't stop with that. Everyday, more interesting cases come to him, all originating from the Manhattan General. And Jack makes astounding diagnoses of serious diseases such as influenza, tularemia, and Rocky Mountain spotted fever(rickettsia).  This time, he tries to visit the hospital without getting noticed by his enemies there. He manages to make some friends over there, but is not able to find anything fruitful. And- he also gets caught while stealthily trying to talk in the microbiology lab. But, Bigham, his employer  doesn’t fire him. He is still employed.

And what more! The people in Manhattan General do not like his theory of all these diseases being spread intentionally by a doctor(Or is it just one person who has hired them to beat up Jack?), and they decide to hire a few men from the Black Kings, a gang from Harlem, to do away with Jack. But Jack has his own friendly gang to protect him. It becomes a gang war, really. By this time, Laurie, his friend, gets all worried about him, and calls her Detective friend, Lou Soldano, to protect Jack.

Then it reaches the climax. Jack’s suspicion about a doctor spreading these diseases is confirmed. He just needs to find who he/she is. And he gets into a lot of trouble. He gets captured by the disease-spreading villains, and is then saved later by the gangsters.

This book- Contagion- is really very thrilling. This is my first book by Robin Cook featuring Jack Stapleton. I enjoyed it very much.